Newtownards: splendid for windsurfing

The Irish Slalom Series 2011 headed to the Newtownards Sailing Club for a memorable windsurfing competition. With steady 20 knots competition got underway in fantastic conditions and with 35 sailors in the water.

Ciaran O'Brien set one of the most challenging and long downwind slalom courses witnessed by the series. It was a spectacular view to see so many sailors counting down the flags from the race OD and planing over the start line as the hooter went.

This event summed up everything great about Irish Windsurfing. It had it all – wind, rain and sun. Technical racers were gaining an advantage in some of the gusts. Rigs were being changed, conditions assessed on a race by race basis.

The Silver Fleet racers continued to impress. A huge improvement in board speed saw Kevin McGuinness win every race and the Silver fleet overall. First Lady and second overall in the Silver Fleet was Eilis Ni Dhuil.

The usual competitive edge was seen in the Gold fleet with Ireland's best slalom racers on show. Hannes Louet was seen changing down to an 8 metre Gaastra which sent everyone running for their seven metres. Hannes usual sail of choice is a 10 metre to put it in context.

Hannes Louet staved off a lot of close competition to take first place overall. A deserved win, for some great consistent racing. There was a world class display of slalom racing near the top of the fleet with Cormac O'Brien and Chris Lockridge out performing most. One of the closest battles fought out over the day was 'El President' Gareth Nihill with Steven Williams.

The Downings Crew arrived in style as usual with their pilot John Boyce all the way from Donegal. Ben McNutt had a few outstanding results crossing the line for one race in 5th Place. At 17 years of age he was competing and beating windsurfers who are at it for 25 years. One to watch.

Results of the Gold Fleet:

1. Hannes Louet
2. Maurice Owens
3. Fint Day
4. Oisin VG
5. William Revels
6. Nick Fletcher
7. Cormac O'Brien
8. Chris Loughridge
9. Richard Honeyford
10. Gareth Nihill

Results of the Silver Fleet:

1. Kevin McGuinness
2. Eilis NiDhuil
3. Paul Green
4. Gene Ohare
5. David Corkrill
6. Robert Polak